A short story post birth
I remember screaming at/to my mother at the top of my lungs while on all fours on the ground, “I CAN’T DO THIS!!!” as my lower back felt like it was being sawed in two. Getting into the car felt like I had to run five marathons all at once. Labor must be the hardest part, right?
As soon as I arrived at the hospital, I told the nurse that 1. I was not leaving (because I had been turned back a night or two before – I can’t even recall anymore), and 2. an epidural needed to happen NOW (45 minutes later I was smiling again and resting, and yes epidurals are fucking magic).
I even thought that the pain I was feeling – yes feeling – from the surgical knife as it cut into me to remove my son because the anesthesia was still working it’s way to numbing my lower abdomen would be the hardest.
But no, it wasn’t. In fact, labor was the easy part, in comparison to the following 4-6 weeks.
I thought I would be so elated, over-the-moon happy to hold my son in my arms, count his fingers and toes over and over again, and snuggle him as much as I wanted.
The very last thing I ever thought I would have is postpartum depression.
Over the course of the next several weeks, I cried every night in the shower and felt like I could crumble into ashes. I slept approximately 2-3 hours a night because my son refused to be swaddled and would only sleep belly down on me. My nipples were cracked and bleeding, and my breasts became engorged from breastfeeding, causing me to yelp and cry each time my son latched on.
I forced myself to eat, but had a metallic taste in my mouth each time I did. I hated food and wished I didn’t need it for survival.
The worst part was when I started thinking – and truly believed – that my son and husband would be better off without me. Why not end it now? The pain would go away and they wouldn’t have to put up with a depressed, ugly human being.
I felt wretched and like I had aged 50 years. I felt useless. Why does the world need yet another useless human being?
If it had not been for my parents, if it had not been for a small group text that had been set up with close friends from the moment we learned we were all pregnant, if it had not been for Matt, and if it even had not been for the lactation consultant that helped me with breastfeeding issues…I’m not sure what I would have done.
But I fought through that dark and ominous cloud, and by the sixth week after he was born, I started feeling better. It took several months, and by January of this year, I started feeling whole again.
It’s not something women talk about, which is a shame, because it helps others who are going through the same thing know that they are not alone and to get the support and help they need.
People ask me if and when we want another child. I tell them one is enough for us, but not because of the expenses, not because of the desperate need for sleep (ok that has a little something to do with it), but because – and I haven’t said this to anyone until now – I don’t want to feel like that ever again. That mental bottomless pit I fell into had been the darkest place I’d experienced in my 37 years. Going through it once was more than enough for me.
I’ve been told since it takes 9 months to grow a fetus, it’ll take another 9 months to go back to how I was prior to his birth (physically). But mentally and emotionally, I’ll never be the same again. I think I came out of this stronger and with a lot more love in my heart for that little human that I never thought was possible.
I love him from here to eternity and beyond. He was definitely worth it.